English: Angular solomon's seal roots

Chinese: 玉竹

Parts used: Dried rhizome

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Lung Stomach

Scientific name: Polygonatum odoratum

Other names: Scented Solomon's seal, Jade bamboo

Use of Yu Zhu (angular solomon's seal roots) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: After collection, remove fibrous elements, wash, dry slightly and rub until it is translucent. Wash again, soak in water, cut in thick pieces and dry.

Dosage: 6 to 12g.

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes the Yin of the Lung and Stomach. Generates Fluids and extinguishes Wind. Stop thirsty.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Yu Zhu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Sore throat Dry cough Rheumatism Gout Water retention Diabetes

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Cold Damp Phlegm in the Stomach.

Common TCM formulas in which Yu Zhu is used*

Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Clears Heat. Induces Sweating. Releases the Exterior.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldAcute tonsilitis and others

Yu Zhu is a king ingredient in Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang, Yu Zhu nourishes the Yin of the Lungs and Stomach. It also clears Heat, and generates Body Fluids.

It is particularly useful due to its ability to tonify without causing Stagnation. Therefore, it can restore Body Fluids without getting in the way of eliminating pathogens, which more cloying Yin tonics might do.

Read more about Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisDiabetes and others

Yu Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Yi Wei Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yi Wei Tang, Yu Zhu directs the actions of the king herbs specifically to the Stomach

Read more about Yi Wei Tang

Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and nourishes the Lungs and Stomach. Generates Body Fluids and moistens Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: PneumoniaBronchitis and others

Yu Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang, Yu Zhu nourishes the Yin and moistens Dryness. It enriches without causing any Stagnation. 

When Yu Zhu and Tian Hua Feng are used together, they support the chief herbs in generating Body Fluids and clearing internal Heat. 

Read more about Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Yu Zhu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yu Zhu belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore Yu Zhu is Cold in nature. This means that Yu Zhu typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Yu Zhu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yu Zhu also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Yu Zhu tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Yu Zhu is thought to target the Lung and the Stomach. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Yu Zhu

TFP, one of the primary hypoglycemic active compounds of Polygonatum odoratum, possess significant dose-dependent anti-diabetic activity thanks to its beneficial effects on regulation of blood glucose. 1.


1. XS Shu, JH Lv, J Tao, GM Li, HD Li, N Ma "Antihyperglycemic effects of total flavonoids from Polygonatum odoratum in STZ and alloxan-induced diabetic rats" Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2009 - Elsevier

Use of Yu Zhu as food

Yu Zhu is also eaten as food.